"close line"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Jan 31 19:22:32 UTC 2009

At 11:05 AM -0800 1/31/09, Arnold Zwicky wrote:
>On Jan 31, 2009, at 10:15 AM, Herb Stahlke wrote:
>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>Poster:       Herb Stahlke <hfwstahlke at GMAIL.COM>
>>Subject:      Re: Antedating "and them"
>>So is "close line" eye dialect or an eggcorn?
>>On Sat, Jan 31, 2009 at 1:11 PM, Jonathan Lighter
>><wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>Though widely familiar to others here, it still sounds weird to me.
>>>I never
>>>heard it in NYC.
>>>1918 Ring Lardner _Treat 'Em Rough_ (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill)
>>>13: I
>>>guess if Van Hindburg and them could of seen us you wouldn't of
>>>needed a
>>>close line no more to take their chest measure.
>>>The "writer" is a baseball pitcher from the rural Midwest.
>surely just spelling by ear.  the spelling "close" for "clothes" is
>common enough to be in Brians, and you can google up relevant
>examples of "close washer" and "close dryer" as well as "close line",
>plus some things like "put on your close".  i can't see any connection
>to closing in these examples.
But there's occasion for further eggcorning/reanalysis of e.g. "put
on your clos(e)", as attested by children who refer to a single
article of apparel as "a clo".  (For some adults, a clo is also a
unit for measuring the insulation value of clothing.)

Maybe it's not just children (although I first became aware of it
that way in the wild).  I see the urban dictionary has this entry for

A single piece of clothing; a shirt, a hat.
"What are you getting Amy for Christmas?" "Oh, I don't know; probably a clo."


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